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Demolition of two historic structures to close Diamond Head State Monument

The Division of State Parks announced today closures in October and November of Diamond Head State Monument for demolition of two historic structures atop Diamond Head Crater, which visitors have been climbing for years.

The state will demolish rather than repair the two structures built atop the Leahi Fire Control Station at the summit of the crater, which division officials deem dangerous and too costly to repair.

Fire control stations served as military installation “observation posts to spot and plot locations of potentially hostile warships and later, aircraft,” the division said in a news release.

Parks archeologist Holly McEldowney found the Leahi station particularly complex. touted as the most elaborate and unique of its type in the U.S.…”and one of the most unusual observing stations in the annals of coastal artillery.”

Judging from old photographs and other evidence, the two concrete and rebar structures were built about 68 years ago sometime between World War II and the early 1950s, and were additions to the fire control array completed in 1911, McEldowney surmised.

State Parks Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter said that the cost of repairing or reconstructing these structures was “prohibitively expensive to repair or reconstruct them,, particularly in the contest of other park priorities.”

“We were not able to discover the purpose or function of the two column and slab roof structures,” Carpenter said. “Despite posted danger signs and warnings to stay off them, people have been climbing for years, attempting to get better views.

“We don’t want anyone to get hurt and this is a primary reason we elected to remove the structures,” he said, adding that it was easier to make the decision since they were not part of the original 1911 building.

“So in a way we are restoring the original feature’s integrity,” Carpenter said.

Work begins Thursday and Oct. 29, requiring the closure of the monument on those days.

It will again close Nov. 1 to Nov. 5.

The fire control station will be closed Nov. 6 to Nov. 19, but could remain closed longer depending on the progress of the work.

Protection measures during the demo work will be in place to prevent damage to the other five historic features at the summit, the state said.

The two columns are considered historic properties under the state historic preservation laws, so the State Historic Preservation Division has reviewed and concurred that their removal will not diminish the significance of the fire station.

It found the work meets historic preservation standards for significant historic buildings and structures.

“Despite this, it’s unfortunate to lose one tangible reminder of Hawaii’s history, and having to balance this loss with the need for public safety in a heavily visited park,” the Historic Preservation Division said.

The Historic Preservation Division is documenting and photographing the structures being removing for historical preservation purposes.

Also repairs to the deteriorating concrete ceiling of the tunnel, which serves as the main entrance to the Leahi Fire Control Station, will be taking place.

That tunnel is part of the original station and starts at the top of a 99-step stairway and extends 62 feet to the station.

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